Perry Lantz remembers those moments of dread when his father, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dick C.P. Lantz, would pop in to school to pick him up or pay an impromptu visit. There would be the whispered chatter, “Your dad is here! What did you do?” and the boy would rack his mind to come up with an explanation.
When your dad is a prominent judge in the Miami court system, people talk.
“I probably did something, or failed to do something,” his son said in his eulogy for his father, who died Aug. 11, a day after his 82nd birthday.
“But in retrospect, of course, because these realizations take time, I know now that there is no escaping the fact that my father, with all that he was, his attributes, quirks, the whole lot, is within me and my sisters and brother, and as I have said, our kids, which brings me great joy and solace,” he added.
In Lantz’s 16 years on the bench, he could be a controversial figure. He drew heat in 1984 for using what could be considered a derogatory Yiddish word while hearing a case involving a black man killed by a car. Lantz said he was misunderstood, but resigned from the bench that fall and devoted time to his church, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
“He was very much like a judge in the house,” his son said. “He liked the title. But once you got to know him he was just like a teddy bear. He had this harsh, rough exterior, but it was all a show.”
Lantz was born Constantine Perry Lantz on Aug. 10, 1934, in the Bronx. His father, Pericles Lantz, was influential in the New York Greek community, responsible for starting the Greek Independence Day Parade and celebrations.
He moved to Miami at 15. He graduated from Coral Gables High, served in the Air Force and earned a law degree at the University of Miami. Lantz was a member of the Florida Bar for 50 years.
He was also a former St. Sophia parish president and past president of The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.
“We were always taken by how available he was for people in our community and how he and my mother worked almost every festival,” his son said. “St. Sophia is home for all of us and he raised us with a deep seeded need to cleave to our faith.”
Lantz is also survived by his wife Betty Andrews Lantz; children Athena Guillen, Dorothea and James Lantz; five grandchildren and sister Dorothea Kalatzakos. Services were held.